In an interview with producer Harve Bennett he tells us that Star Trek II was so successful that he was given the green light for Star Trek III three days after its predecessor’s release. The Search For Spock is not the best of the franchise, but it is certainly the most underrated. Trek lore states that even numbered films are great and odd numbered films bite. This is certainly an exception. Christopher Lloyd is surprising as the main villain, the Klingon Kruge. Shatner actually provides one of his best scenes with Mark Lenard as Spock’s father. Deforest Kelly steals the film with the charm and wit that makes McCoy such an endearing figure and the actor’s death such a loss to Star Trek. There are many moving scenes to be found here: The death of Kirk’s son, Spock’s reunion with his friends, but perhaps the most startling is the destruction of the good ship Enterprise.
Following immediately after The Wrath of Kahn Kirk finds himself in violation of Starfleet Command when he must return McCoy and Spock’s body to Vulcan. His emotional mission causes him to steal the Enterprise and engage a ruthless Klingon bent on possessing Genesis. What starts as a mission to save Spock’s soul becomes much more when it is discovered that the Genesis wave has reanimated Spock’s body.
The audio for this disc is a superior 5.1 Dolby Digital track. Gone are the distortion and runaway peaks found on Paramount’s earlier release and more recently on Star Trek II. The dialogue is crisp and well centered. Surrounds are not used aggressively, but effects are well placed and provide a natural environment for a film originally recorded in simple stereo. Bass extension is particularly impressive as the Genesis planet disintegrates. The splendid James Horner score has some wonderful standout moments.
There is an excellent commentary with Leonard Nimoy and Harve Bennett. Credit Nimoy with delivering an informative track that stays light and conversational. Nimoy is also not shy when it comes to his criticisms of then Paramount head Michael Eisner. He’s very candid about his dealings with studio heads and writers. Robin Curtis joins occasionally to offer mostly uninspired observations that are honestly just too obvious to be worthwhile.
Star Trek III is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The transfer is quite impressive especially when you consider the film’s age. I did notice some shimmering, notably in the scene where McCoy is broken out of the psych ward. There is the occasional film artifact but nothing too distracting and likely not noticed except under close inspection. Colors have been reproduced faithfully. You can compare this transfer with the previous version by viewing the trailer. WOW what a difference digital remastering can make. Blacks are deep and mostly true to form. The color tinting on the Vulcan scenes is a bit harsh, but as I recall so was the theatrical print I saw.
In addition to the above mentioned commentary track Michael Okuda provides another distracting text commentary. Disc 2 contains the bulk of the collection’s extra features.
Captain’s Log is a collection of interviews mostly with Nimoy, Shatner, and Christopher Lloyd. Space Docks and Birds of Prey cover the model making process of the film. Speaking Klingon is an interesting short feature with linguist Marc Okrand who is credited with developing most of the Star Trek universes Klingon verbiage. There is a costume feature if you’re into that sort of thing. Most disappointing was the feature Terraforming and The Prime Directive. This feature is mostly a lot of philosophizing and talking heads debating the correct uses of futuristic sciences.
The disc also features an impressive archive of storyboards and production photos, a trailer, and a few minor text-based goodies.
It seems Paramount might be running out of steam already in their special releases of the Star Trek films. I was particularly disappointed that the many deleted scenes I know to exist were not included in this package. I hadn’t seen this film in a few years when I sat down with some friends to review this DVD. The best thing anyone can say about a movie is that it entertained. I lost count of the number of times a certain scene or line brought a nostalgic smile to my face. For smiles alone this DVD is worth the money.I was further touched by the loss of Deforest Kelly and the impending loss of James Doohan. My suggestion is to buy and treasure this DVD and join the crew of the Enterprise in a heartwarming toast: “To absent friends”.